The Country in Between

Trip Start May 31, 2012
Trip End Aug 08, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Well, I've held you all in suspense long enough. Here is the culmination of our Tasmanian Trip, our Southern Sortee, our Dangerous Dalliances with Devils. Oh, of course, now I come up with all the clever names, after I've already named this post 'The Country in Between'. I suppose I could go up there and change it, but the box is aaallllllllll the way up there and I've had a hard day. It's staying the way it is.

As I was saying, this post is in regards to all of the places we saw and the things we did in between Hobart and Launceston (and NatureWorld!), which you may recognize from such posts as "City Life" and "Wildlife Wednesdays - Tasmania!". We did something called the Huon Valley, visited the Freycinet Peninsula and it's famous Wineglass Bay, saw a flight attendant who looked surprisingly like Michael Ian Black (of 'Mike and Tom Eat Snacks' fame), survived the Bay of Fires, had a standing long jump competition, visited a cheese shop, hiked across the face of Cradle Mountain (and one of us even did it without wetting themselves!), and drove across the Central Highlands.

We did the Huon Loop, down south of Hobart along the coast of the Huon Peninsula as soon as we arrived in Tasmania. We picked up our van in Hobart, said "So long, suckers!", immediately apologized for calling everyone suckers and asked for directions to get out of town. We kept a little trip journal on the trip and Kara wrote the first entry, so I'll let her tell this part of the story. "Our taxi driver (from the airport) was an old timer with a braid and intimate knowledge of all the city's photoradar. He gave us some good tips, but it is unlikely that Dave will get up to the speed limit, let alone go over, in the campervan." - Kara Powell, Feb 2nd, 2013. Now, let me just say, I did get up to the speed limit at certain points in this trip, but driving a big ol' van along twisty unfamiliar roads does not lend itself to speeding. I'm just saying.

We made it down to the bottom of the peninsula in just over an hour so we set up shop at a little place called Gordon, that promised a free campground and it did not disappoint. It was pretty full, being a Saturday night, but we got a nice spot right on the water and so we didn't mind too much. We drove from there to Huonville the next day, stopping for a stroll along Verona Beach which was quite nice. You'll notice in all the pictures the beautiful blue water and the sunny skies, but don't let that fool you. It was generally too cold to actually go swimming. It was nice enough to sit on the beach or go for a walk in our shorts, but believe me, the water was prettttty chilly, so don't get to jealous there, fellow Canadians. In fact, I'd say we were suffering pretty much the same as you, with your -20 to -30 weather and our 'nice enough to sit on the beach or go for a walk in our shorts, but believe me, the water was prettttty chilly' weather. So there you go.

Huonville was cute and we drank coffee, bought some used books and went to the Sunday market. We did a hike up in the Hartz Mountains (and later bought some water purportedly from there). There were plenty of glacial lakes along that hike and it got really cold and windy as we approached the pass. It was really quite stunning though, and you could look out over the whole of the Huon Valley from the heights that we ascended to. Following this, we found 'The Big Tree', which is, well, a very big tree. No, I don't know the exact dimensions, and no, I don't know how old it is. All I know is that the viewing platform was closed due to structural instability and my lovely wife decided that she knew more about the situation than the people that put up the sign and so hopped over it to get a closer look at the big tree. It's a big tree! You can see it from far away, it's that big! Anyway, consult the photographic evidence for exhibit A, Kara Powell on the other side of the 'Closed' sign and exhibit B, Dave Combden disapproving of said action.

Kara survived the incident and we stayed at a little place called Dover that night. Following this, we headed up towards the Freycinet Peninsula along the east coast, stopping once for a quick nap on the beach (again, consult photographic evidence). During this drive, we facetimed with Rex and Mo Powell on Kara's phone. They were able to see some of the scenic scenery and picturesque pictures along the way through the Huon Valley. It was also on this drive that I realized just how on the ball Mo Powell is. Nothing escapes her attention, nothing. We were driving along (I was driving, Kara was holding the phone and talking to her parents) when we approached some roadside construction. I stopped the van and chatted a bit with Kara and the inlaws, and then started off again when I got the go ahead from the highway guy. Our lane was closed, as that's where they were doing the work, and so I pulled into the other lane to pass the construction and to continue on our way, when I heard Mo on the phone, "You're driving on the wrong side of the road!", meaning she'd already accustomed herself to the fact that normally, I'd be on the wrong side of the road due to being in Australia, but had just noticed now that I was on the same side she would be on in Canada, and thus I was now on the 'wrong' side of the road. We explained our situation and we all laughed about it, and I silently thanked my lucky stars I never had her as a teacher in elementary school. I wouldn't have gotten away with anything.

On to the Freycinet Peninsula, and the Friendly Beaches Campground, probably my favourite place we stayed in Tasmania. The sites were secluded and big, the ocean was right beside us and the weather was beautiful. Still not warm enough to go swimming, but we did spend a considerable amount of time on the beach. What started as a lovely walk along a lovely beach ended in a heated battle for standing long jump supremacy. After I won that, we had that nice encounter back at the van with two little wallabies. We kind of wanted to stay there another night, but the pull of Wineglass Bay further down the Peninsula was beckoning us so onward we ventured.

It was a really nice hike up over the ridge and down into the Wineglass Bay area, and there were plenty of other hikers there. Hikers of all sizes and ages. As we were coming back, after having endured the steep and rocky terrain that they warn you about in the parking lot, we were a little bit concerned about some of the older hikers who seemed to be having a difficult time before things even got difficult. I'm sure they all made it out of there alive and without serious incident because, well, I'm an optimist. From the lookout, like I said, it was pretty steep going all the way down to the beach (consult photographic evidence), but we made it and then carved ourselves out a nice little spot on the beach where we ate cherries and buried the pits in the sand. I actually ran out there to dive into the water but by the time I got up to my haunches, my feet were freezing and then a big wave came and smashed me in the face and so I came crawling back to Kara on the sand.

After staying in a cute little town called St. Helen's, we travelled further up the east coast and made a quick stop at the gateway to the Bay of Fires, Binalong Bay, for a coffee and a sit on the beach. This really was as picturesque as the postcards we'd seen before coming, but sadly it was still fairly cold and so we didn't go swimming in the lovely blue waters. We read our books and watched a Japanese family who was trying their hand at the water. After leaving the Bay of Fires and that Japanese family behind us, we travelled inland towards Launceston and stopped at a small cheese place called Pyengana Dairy Company for lunch and some cheese. We weighed ourselves on the big cow scale outside and we laughed and the people laughed and the cows laughed. I bet they'd never seen that sort of shenanigan before.

You've read (hopefully) about our time in Launceston so I'll skip forward to our adventures at Cradle Mountain, probably the most iconic Tasmanian landmark or geographic feature out there. We started out on the Dove Lake track, the path that takes you around Dove Lake at the base of Cradle Mountain. But after getting stuck behind numerous older people, slow young people, and talky Italian people, we decided to veer off onto a more strenuous hike. Leave the masses behind for some open air and physical exertion! And so about a half hour of physical exertion straight up later, we arrived at the rocky face of the mountain itself. There was an offshoot of the path called the 'Face Track' that we thought we'd give a try. Another half hour later, I realized why it was called the 'Face Track', in that we had traversed straight across, and up, the rocky face of the mountain. At least there were metal poles stuck into the rock with chains draped between them so that you had a bit of a handrail. It was probably the scariest hike I've ever done, as I'm not really a fan of heights. Kara was fine with it but very supportive in case I wanted to turn back, but really, we were there and sharks don't swim backwards, and I'm a shark so we just kept going. In all, the hike took us about 3.5 hours and we were pretty exhausted when we got back to our van, but we were very satisfied. A good hike should leave you feeling like that.

We toured the interpretive centre the next morning and then headed through the central highlands of Tasmania, a rare Lonely Planet black spot! There was nothing about the area in that book, and that piqued our curiosity. It was a pretty quiet area, I don't think many tourists go through there. Or if they do, it's to get somewhere else. Kara directed us to a campground at Arthurs Lake and that's where we made the acquaintance of Blue, as noted in "Wildlife Wednesdays-Tasmania!". There were a lot of blackened trees around Arthur Lake from the recent wildfires, but things seemed to be growing back alright. The campground was more like a shanty village, with lots of caravans and trailers that had makeshift shelters and additions, some more makeshift than others! There were some full fledged steel constructions attached to some of the trailers. It was a nice, quiet and secluded end to our Tasmanian Campervan Adventure. We spent that whole evening reading, playing cards, sitting by the water and snacking. Just what a vacation is for.

Now as for this fight attendant doppelganger for Michael Ian Black, I'll again leave you in the capable hands of Mrs Kara Powell, from our trip journal; "The flight to Melbourne and then Hobart passed by uneventfully, unless a flight attendant that kind of (~25%) looks like a not well known actor named Mike is an event (in Dave's books this is worth mentioning)." - Kara Powell, Feb 2nd 2013.
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